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Batman: Arkham Origins features an expanded Gotham City and introduces an original prequel storyline occurring several years before the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City. Taking place before the rise of Gotham City\'s most dangerous
Need for Speed: Most Wanted Review
developer: EA Canada
PIII 1400, 256MB RAM, 3GB HDD, 32MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Nov 17, 05 (released)
|» All About Need for Speed: Most Wanted on ActionTrip|
Drive carefully, wear a seatbelt at all times...
These are some of the words you'll be hearing during the opening scene of the latest sequel in EA's long-lasting racing franchise, Need for Speed. I would also like to stress that here at AT we fully encourage safe driving and we sincerely hope that all you drivers out there take care while you're behind the wheel. However, a fair warning might be in order. Need for Speed: Most Wanted has nothing whatsoever to do with safe driving, as it may impel you to do things you wouldn't normally do... like ramming your car straight into a gas station at high speed (although, I hear this is one of Smapdey's favorite pass times - somehow, the bastard always manages to survive). Luckily, the game doesn't involve running over pedestrians or pink prams at zebra crossings. On the other hand, you may look forward to destroying practically anything else that gets in your way (that's also something we do not encourage in real life).
At the outset, I decided to disregard the usual arguments related to EA's continuous tendency to extensively drain the life out of successful franchises. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I wanted to be as objective as possible, even though I still couldn't shake off initial skepticism and the presumption that EA would cock things up with just another fancy makeover. Oddly enough, things turned our better then I hoped. Much better in fact.
The first thing you'll come to appreciate is the slick and stylish design. Everything from vehicles, characters and even the in-game ambiance sort of reflects the spirit of illegal street racing - various customizable car logos, street graffiti, bleak industrial zones to drive through, etc. The designers were aiming for a different visual appeal in this game. As players rush through various types of urban settings, they will be able to see a remarkable amount of detail in the backdrop. The blurry effect once more conveys a sense of tremendous speed, while gamers rush through streets in their fancy vehicle. Although slightly overused, the motion blur still works, and it corresponds brilliantly with superb reflections, particle effects and dynamic lighting. Moreover, the inclusion of real-time weather creates the proper atmosphere and makes things even cooler.
The audio is not without faults. Sound effects, especially those in the background could've been richer, but overall it's completely satisfying for an arcade racing game. The selection of songs is pleasing, although the game would've benefited from additional music genres. Everything else from engine bursts, to the sounds of highway flyovers rushing above your head, is realistic and absolutely first-rate. To spice things up a wee bit, EA lined-up a decent cast to portray the back story. Brooke Burke's cameo last year in NFSU2 was awarded to Josie Maran this time around - she plays one of the chief characters (btw, she's hot and wants to help you, so don't say no).
The concept of NFS: Most Wanted is essentially the same as in the Underground series. You climb the Blacklist of racers until you reach the top. As before, in order to gain recognition, you must first complete a series of different challenges to prove you got what it takes to be a top street racer. The Blacklist is merely a component inserted to correspond with the game's spirit and the cops that become increasingly interested in your activities as you build up your reputation as a street racer. It also ties well into the previous game, as the player now finally steps into the circle of top racers. Yep, the NFS series sees the return of police vehicles, choppers, etc. Of course, you'll be able to relax from intense cop chases by racing in other events that have minimum to no police presence. Unfortunately, that won't be enough to impress other street racing challengers, so in the end, you're gonna have to provoke the police so that other racers would want to face you on the road. The idea was implemented excellently, establishing a fluent gameplay.
Another familiar ingredient is the Free Roam mode (first introduced in NFSU2), which allows players to drift through various parts of town, and choose any racing challenge they want. This is one of the most thrilling aspects of the game. You can either drive through the city, locating certain tasks on your own, or you can jump straight to the Safe House (or garage if you will) and launch racing events directly. There's a great variety of challenges at hand, and it's entirely up to you to decide which one to complete first. This open-ended approach, as you may find, is one of the commendable parts of NFS: Most Wanted. It represents a considerable improvement over typically linear single-player campaigns we usually see in today's racing games.
Mixing elements like Free Roam and intense street races with exciting cop chases, sets an appropriate tempo to the whole game. You're looking at an exhilarating and fast-paced ride through well-planned out urban and country districts. Still, that doesn't mean you won't have time to cool off. Players can make stops along the way to fine-tune their vehicle. Customizing your favorite ride is a more detailed process when compared to the last game. This time around you also have to consider the Rap Sheet, which is used by the police to document reckless drivers as they pull off stunts on the road.
This brings me to the very essence of Need for Speed: Most Wanted. One of your main tasks is to go through so-called Milestone events, which involve more than just Drag and Circuit racing. Basically, it denotes getting the cops' attention. As you progress on the Blacklist, the police will have more and more info on you and your preferred vehicles. The cool thing is that you'll be equipped with a device that keeps detailed track of Rap Sheets. When the cops have a clear description of your car, that means it would be a good idea to head out and buy yourself a set of brand new wheels or maybe just give it a new paintjob, windshield; oh and just so you know, there's a lot of new cars to choose from, and each and every one of them can be customized visually and mechanically in any way you see fit. So, apart from having to deal with cops on the road, you'll also have to take the time to think of the best course of action to avoid getting busted.
During actual races, the cop AI never really proved to be exceptionally smart. Usually, they just stick on to you like glue and then they just get smashed to bits by obstacles on the track or by your indestructible car. Realism is not the point anyhow. The point is to floor it and do your best to avoid anything that gets in the way of a good race. In any case, the AI in general still provides enough of a challenge for players. Plus, the police will set up road blocks, they'll send SUV's to meet you head on, and let's not forget those persistent helicopters. Anyways, it's a decent challenge all the way.
Fast-paced and extremely fun, awesome visuals, high replay value;
Occasionally frustrating scripted AI causing problems on the road, perhaps a wider variety of songs and sound effects in the backdrop.